With chief selector Patil watching, duo smashes centuries to thrash Sri Lanka by 88 runs in warm-up tie ahead of all-important season
The Rohit Sharma & Manish Pandey show in warm up game
- Rohit Sharma was slow off the blocks but he made up for it with a flurry of boundaries 2. Manish Pandey was his authoritative best at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday Salman Ansari DNA
The one-off practice match against India ‘A’, ahead of the five-match ODI series, did not appear to yield much for the Sri Lankans. However, the hosts, who won it by 88 runs, got many positives from it with Rohit Sharma and Manish Pandey flourishing with the bat.Sharma crafted a masterly knock of 142 during his near three-hour stay at the crease against a Sri Lankan attack that comprised, including those who rolled their arm over, 10 bowlers. Hosts posted a mammoth 382 for six in 50 overs.
The game also proved worthy for Karnataka batsman Pandey, who continued from his last domestic season and IPL form to score an unbeaten 135 (113b, 15×4, 1×6), both the centuries being watched by chief national selector Sandeep Patil at the Brabourne Stadium here on Thursday.
All eyes were on Sharma. He last played a competitive match on August 27 in England before hurting his right middle finger and also his shoulder, and had to use this match as a ticket to his future India selections.
Sharma protected his healing finger with bandage and also fielded for full 50 overs, even holding on to a skier at the long-on boundary and appeared match fit.
It will be a surprise if Sharma, who opened for India ‘A’ and struck 18 fours and a six on the day, does not make it to the ODI squad for the fourth and fifth ODIs against Lanka and then for the Australia tour.
India ‘A’ coach Sanjay Bangar said that Sharma has passed the fitness test. “He was in no discomfort at all. He fielded throughout the 50 overs, which is a good sign for the Indian team. He gave a fantastic account of himself and has shown total recovery from those injuries,” he said.
While Sharma’s knock was slow to start with as fellow opener Unmukt Chand scored a quick 54 – his fourth successive score of 50 for India ‘A’ following – 53 vs South Africa ‘A’ in Darwin, 79* and 101 vs West Indies – in their opening partnership of 96, Pandey’s was full of authority.
The two punished the Lankan bowling that looked pedestrian as they bowled full tosses and short deliveries. Sharma and Pandey added 204 in 27.4 overs for the second wicket as India ‘A’ – who at one stage appeared set for a 400-plus total.
Pandey has been doing all the right things to merit an India selection. He cannot but curse his luck when he earned his maiden India call-up for the lone Twenty20 international against the West Indies but it was a non-starter as the Caribbeans abandoned the tour midway over pay dispute. Pandey still has hope and should stand a chance for the one-dayers in Australia, should the selectors find a slot for him.
Bangar was pleased with Pandey’s efforts too. Asked how he motivated Pandey after the Windies pull out, Bangar said: “We just got together for two days. But Manish has been batting pretty well and consistently for his domestic sides. He played a vital part in his sides winning the Ranji Trophy, Irani Cup and Duleep Trophy.
“He had a fantastic IPL also, winning the final for Kolkata Knight Riders. He has been in tremendous touch. He is always on the fringes. This innings of his can give him a lot of confidence because he came after we were put in to bat and you always expect the CCI wicket to do a bit in the first hour and a half. So, from that perspective, it must have been very satisfying for Manish.”
Brief scores: India ‘A’ 382/6 in 50 overs (R Sharma 142, M Pandey 135, U Chand 54, M Tiwary 36; D Prasad 3/57, L Gamage 2/41) bt Sri Lanka 294/9 in 50 overs (U Tharanga 76, K Sangakkara 34, M Jayawardene 33, N Dickwella 29, C De Silva 26; K Sharma 4/47, P Rasool 2/56, D Kulkarni 2/41, K Yadav 1/48) by 88 runs